Rocca Ancestors

Until 1860, Italy was simply a loose federation of states and unsurprisingly, central records barely existed, which has meant that few examples of surnames have come down to us over the centuries.

The surname ROCCA is said to be of Italian origin, a baptismal name meaning 'the son of ROCCO'. The name was believed to have been first registered in Como in 1296 and was reasonably common in the Middle Ages. This was when family names became more widely used, especially by nobles and upper classes. Rocca, meaning fortress or rock, has been recorded in many forms including Di Rocca, Della Rocca, La Rocca, Di Rocco, Rocca and Roccella. Thus, it may originate from any of the various places or estates called Rocca in Italy, or it can describe a person who lived by a fortress, or a cliff, or even on a rock!

There are many Roccas in Italy and elsewhere, and in our research, we have discovered that there were about 40 in each of the 1881 & 1891 Census’ in England and many more in America. The earliest ancestor we have traced is Giovanni Maria Rocca, who lived in Oga, and you can read about him and our Rocca ancestors in the Family Tree section.


The Coat of Arms shown above was displayed in the Rocca house at San Carlo, but we do not know if it authentic. By the 13th century, arms had spread beyond their initial battlefield use to become a flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next. Coats of arms are granted to individuals and should only be used if granted to an ancestor on your direct paternal line - handed down from father to son. These grants were made by the proper heraldic authority for the country in question. In most countries you can design and even register your own individual coat of arms, or you can buy one, which does not mean that it is authentic.

The information about our Rocca family has been gathered from many sources within and outside the family, and I am very grateful to those who helped me in this respect. It is very satisfying to discover new material about our ancestors and to add some substance to a name or photograph. I hope that in the future, someone in the next generation of our family will take the research further, but I believe it is important to share what is available now.

The name was brought to San Carlo by our great grandfather Pietro Rocca, and you can read the story on his page by selecting it from the Rocca family names tab under the “Recorded Names” menu item.

The old Commune records, which are in Latin, are held by the Archivist at Poschiavo and are in Latin. From that time, there are many records in San Vittore Mauro Church and also civic records in the Commune office of Poschiavo, where births, marriages and deaths of Rocca family members have been listed since 1876. Since 1915, the records of family members born in San Carlo have been retained at San Carlo Borromeo Church.

Today, the archivist maintains family records, as well as many other important historical documents in his office which is in the Tower in the Piazza, Poschiavo. The archive is supervised and checked regularly by the archivist and the inspectors of the State Archives to ensure that the documents are well preserved.

Here is a full list, going back to the 19th century, to enable you to find your ancestors. All the known names in the family, living and dead, are noted here. CLICK HERE and the list of Rocca Ancestors will come on to your screen, and you can read or print it.

When you have finished viewing the document, close it in the normal way and you will return to this page.

For further information, you will also find the names of all family members, together with the known events in their lives, by clicking on the Recorded Names menu tab and then on Rocca family names, which will give you a list of all the names in the Rocca Family. Click on any name and you will go to that individual’s page giving all the information that we have about that person.

By clicking on the Family Tree main menu tab, you will find the Rocca Family Tree, starting with Giovanni Maria Rocca, the earliest name in the family that we have traced. Clicking on any name in  the family tree will also give you that person‘s page.

You can trace your Rocca ancestors on the “Recorded names” list and on the Family Tree tab, back to the early part of the nineteenth century. There is also a descendants list of the Rocca family under the “Ancestors” tab in the Rocca History section of the menu.